Why is a large vocabulary important for children? Because it’s linked to their reading and school success.

Families can foster children’s vocabulary through conversations, reading aloud, and singing.

Try these vocabulary-building ideas at home.

Describe what you are doing.
I’m putting the food out for breakfast. I made scrambled eggs because we all like them. There is some tangerine juice to drink. Tangerine juice tastes a lot like orange juice that you think is so yummy.

Talk about what your child is doing.
Look how high you made that LEGO skyscraper. Let’s count how many pieces are in your construction.

Narrate your adventures in the car, at the grocery store, or on a walk.
Look how many plums are in the bin. They are all round and purple, except for this one on top.

Read aloud to your child every day.
What do you think it means that the spider wriggled and jiggled and tickled inside the old lady?

Sing with children to introduce and reinforce new vocabulary.
After we read the book I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly, we can sing the song.

Talk, talk, talk.
Ask your child open-ended questions and give him or her time to respond. What was your favorite part of our trip to the zoo?


Source: Adapted from the Message in a Backpack, Teaching Young Children 7 (3): 29

© National Association for the Education of Young Children — Promoting excellence in early childhood education